Category: race

  • Going Dutch Fifty-Two Pickup, Swag from Four Novels of the 1970’s by Elmore Leonard.  Library of America.  808 pp.  $37.50 Elmore Leonard wrote great—I would almost say groundbreaking—dialogue, but the rest of his writing was ordinary, even pedestrian.  Let’s the opening of Fifty-Two Pickup. “He could not get used to going to the girl’s apartment.  He would be tense, ... Read more
  • Doc, Ya Gotta Level Wit Me  Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2017 My Lineup: Whose Streets? / Still Tomorrow / The Good Postman / Abacus / Zaatari Djinn / Tribal Justice / Strong Island / Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities / Quest / The Force / May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers At ... Read more
  • Old Corn-Drinking Mellifluous Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner.  315 pp.  $15.95 I’m obsessed with the subject of telling stories.  I’ve spoken before about how all stories are false, or all stories true; they are, in any case, human fabrications, which may have little to do with what actually happened.  We love them nevertheless.  Human beings tell each other stories, ... Read more
  • Stories Short and Long Autumn by Ali Smith.  Pantheon.  264 pp.  $24.95 Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley.  Washington Square Press.  208 pp. $14.00 There are short stories that seem to have enough material for novels.  Alice Munro’s late work was like that, any number of mid-length stories, forty or fifty pages, which encompassed an entire life.  Frank O’Connor said ... Read more
  • James Baldwin Has a Question I Am Not Your Negro a film by Raoul Peck.  With James Baldwin, Samuel L. Jackson, Dick Cavett. ****1/2 In a way I wish the title of this film had gone further.  The speech in the movie that it most closely reflects it is one by James Baldwin on a television interview: “What white people have ... Read more
  • Distinctly Praise the Years Atlantis: Three Tales by Samuel R. Delany.  Wesleyan/New England.  212 pp. Every now and then I reread something by Samuel R. Delany because all of his work is intelligent, beautifully written, and unfailingly deep.  The fact that I’ve read it before doesn’t in the least diminish it.  I love spending time in the presence of such ... Read more
  • This Movie Is About You (Put Away Your Phone) Paterson A film by Jim Jarmusch.  With Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Nellie. Every now and then people call something a Zen movie, and the candidate this year is Paterson, a film whose script Jim Jarmusch apparently wrote twenty years ago and in which almost nothing happens.  A man (Adam Driver) awakens every morning ... Read more
  • The Poetry of Everyday Speech Fences a film by Denzel Washington.  Screenplay by August Wilson.  With Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo. When I was a young man growing up in Pittsburgh, I wanted to be the writer who put the city on the map.  I read Theodore Dreiser’s Newspaper Days; he’d spent some time in the city, and ... Read more
  • Black Boys Looking Blue South to a Very Old Place, Stomping the Blues, The Blue Devils of Nada, From the Briarpatch File from Collected Essays & Memoirs by Albert Murray.  The Library of America.  1049 pp.  $45.00. Moonlight, a film by Barry Jenkins, with Mahershala Ali, Duan Sanderson, Naomie Harris. ***** I haven’t finished the last few pieces from Collected Essays ... Read more
  • Gusto and a Sense of Elegance The Omni-Americans from Collected Essays & Memoirs by Albert Murray.  The Library of America.  1048 pp.  $45.00 The Omni -Americans was at least partly prompted by the Moynihan Report (The Negro Family: The Case For National Action) from 1965, and author Albert Murray states his central thesis in the introduction, “Someone must at least begin to try ... Read more